Several Perron Institute researchers shared their latest findings at the ‘World in a Brainstorm’ 2023 Forum held over two days at DADAA in Fremantle. 

Hosted by not-for-profit organisation Meeting for Minds, the forum’s purpose was to bring together scientists, brain researchers, mental health experts and people with lived experience to unravel some of the mysteries of the brain, particularly in relation to mental illness.  

Sessions focused on how mental health challenges impact individuals and society, and allowed space for individuals to share their experiences, as well as for researchers and health professionals to present evidence-based research and suggest practical ways to better understand and potentially help people affected by mental illness in our community. 

Former WA Minister for Health, the Hon Keith Wilson (Meeting for Minds Director) and Christopher Archer (Meeting for Minds International Chief Scientist) talked about the Meeting for Minds approach to PLEX (People with Lived EXperience of mental illness) in research. Deb Langridge spoke about the Consumer and Community Involvement Program run by the Western Australian Health Translation Network. 

Emeritus Professor Alan Harvey (University of Western Australia/Perron Institute Research Advisory Committee) spoke about the healing power of music and the brain. Associate Professor Jenny Rodger (head of the Brain Plasticity Research group at UWA and Perron Institute) described current theories of brain network changes in depression and how brain stimulation can be used to promote beneficial plasticity. Between their engaging presentations, Gina Newport (Dindindi Drums) led a workshop on body percussion involving considerable audience participation. 

Dr Sarah Hellewell, a Postdoctoral Researcher in the Neurotrauma Research group at Curtin University and Perron Institute delivered an online talk about the impact of sports concussion. 

Professor Anthony Akkari (Perron Institute and CMMIT Murdoch University) and PhD student Brad Roberts (UWA and Perron Institute) presented on Neuropharmacogenetics and a project currently recruiting young adults with a lived experience of depression and anxiety. 

There were many fascinating presentations, including from Professor Ian Hickie (University of Sydney), Professor Pat Dudgeon (UWA) and Professor Hermona Soreq (Hebrew University, Israel). Luzita Fereday (WAAPA) held a masterclass on ‘Presenting your research: Techniques to enhance your style’. 

Speakers presented in person and online from countries including Germany, Israel, UK and Switzerland, and some events were live-streamed.  

To close the forum, there was a special screening of ‘Pieces’, a film which aims to demystify mental illness by starting positive conversations. 

Maria Halphen, President and Founder of Meeting for Minds said: “Mental illness is insidiously persuasive, yet as individuals and communities at all levels, we are still wrestling with how to manage this challenge. The only way to make progress is by adopting a holistic approach, leveraging research and PLEX experience, exploring the synergies.” 

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